Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction August 12-18

You’ll find the links I enjoyed this week further down in this post. First I’m listing the upcoming calendar for the Arizona chapter of the Historical Novel Society. You don’t have to be a historical fiction writer to participate. Anyone can come to any of our meetings. If you’d like to be an official member, just send me an email saying so, and I’ll add you to the email list, or simply attend the meetings of interest to you. That’s all it takes. We are informally organized, with no dues or officers, just lots of community and great speakers, thanks to suggestions and help by our members. The Poisoned Pen Bookstore provides our meeting space in the store’s new room. Many thanks to Barbara Peters for making that wonderful offer of a permanent “home” for us.

2017-18 AZ Historical Novel Society Calendar

All meetings are at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore

4014 N Goldwater Blvd #101 Scottsdale, AZ 85251

September 23, 2-4 pm
British Tea party and conversation with authors Juliana Gray (Edwardian) and Charles Todd (WWI), followed by an informal meeting in the new room at the Poisoned Pen. We have some catching up to do after our long summer break.
Bring sweet or savory snacks and beverages to share–or just bring yourself.

October 28, 2-4 pm
Speaker: Professor Duane Roen
Weaving Cultural History into Our Family History Writing: Sometimes family historians have only names, dates, and places for ancestors. But the more we gather names, dates, and other genealogical facts, the more we yearn for more personal connections to and understanding of those who came before us, found in stories about their lives and accounts of their daily struggles, hopes, and dreams. How can we enrich the stories that we write about our ancestors if we have relatively few details about their lives? Duane Roen will talk about using cultural/social history to flesh out the stories that we write about ancestors. Such history can give us a better understanding of what our ancestors experienced.
Bring sweet or savory snacks and beverages to share–or just bring yourself.

November 18, 2-4 pm
Speaker: Marylee MacDonald
Social Media for Authors: Detailed, sophisticated talk about the interconnectedness of different parts of your online platform, how to build and connect with readers and the most useful web tools to make your marketing/social media presence more effective and less time-consuming.
Bring sweet or savory snacks and beverages to share–or just bring yourself.

January 27, 2-4 pm
Speakers: Cynthia Kiefer and Linda Wickham
History Echoes: Exploring Family History Through the Stories of Those Who Lived It & the Artifacts They Left Behind
Linda Wickham and Cynthia Kiefer created History Echoes to help writers compose engaging vignettes and essays to enhance their family histories using their family’s stories and artifacts, creative nonfiction strategies, and researched, “everyday lifeworld” details. Both also write historical fiction, initially inspired by ancestors and what might have been. During this presentation, Linda and Cynthia will share what they’ve learned developing History Echoes, their web site, and their writing workshops. In addition, they are developing online courses for family history writers and will discuss how they selected the platform and built the courses. During their presentation, they will also conduct an example or two of their writing exercises, so bring a notebook!
Bring sweet or savory snacks and beverages to share–or just bring yourself.

February & March Dates to be determined
Speaker: Rhys Bowen
Topic to be determined
Speaker: Kristina Makansi
Craft talk on dialogue by experienced editor of Blank Slate Press
Bring sweet or savory snacks and beverages to share–or just bring yourself.

April 14, 2-4 pm
Speaker: Beth Cato
Everything (or thereabouts) you ever wanted to know about Steampunk and alternative history (2 fascinating sub-genres of historical fiction) by one of our very best local fantasy authors (one of Judith’s favorites, in case you haven’t gotten addicted yet…)
Bring sweet or savory snacks and beverages to share–or just bring yourself.

Links I enjoyed from around the web:

A farmer in Spain plowed up a small stone stela with strange symbols all over it. And tossed it to the side of his field, where it sat for two years. A ranger noticed it and brought it to a museum, where it sat for eight years. When someone got around to looking at it, they discovered it dates to the Iron Age, 9th to 3rd centuries B.C.E., and “contains elements” from many languages present in Spain at the time, Spanish, Greek, Iberian, Canaanite and Southern Arabian. They can’t date it with precision, further excavations in the field came up empty, and writing wasn’t common in the area at this period. One hypothesis is that someone put all the bits of writing they had seen and remembered onto this stone without knowing what any of it means. I’m trying to picture who this person might be to spend a lot of time and effort recording random symbols on a stone. Maybe a bored shepherd and there is zero significance to this whatsoever? Another theory involves Romans and Carthaginians, but from reading this short article, I’m confused what this theory really is. I suspect this stone stela does have meaning, but the confluence of so many different systems of symbols has stumped the translators so they are opting for the “It never made sense” theory. Anyway, if you want to imagine its origin and purpose, have at it. I’d love some creative ideas, none of which have to have a basis in reality. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Iron Age stone slab engraved with ancient symbols unearthed in farmer’s field in Spain”

photo image of Greek vase of Dionysius with his followers, photo by the Wellcome Trust Images

Greek vase of Dionysius with his followers, photo by the Wellcome Trust Images

Were YHWH and Dionysus Once the Same God? If you’re open to thinking historically about religion and the intermixtures throughout history of the various religions of the world, then this post on the ASOR blog will intrigue you. While he’s not claiming irrefutable certainty, the author makes an engaging, well-supported, academic case that YHWH and Dionysus share the same Canaanite origin as deity (and the same original socially-subversive nature). Click here for the ASOR blog “Were YHWH and Dionysius Once the Same God?” 


If you’re a writer, you probably slip out of deep point of view unintentionally now and then. It’s hard to hold tight to that pov character’s way of seeing things and possible things to perceive. Here’s a good, short post by Lisa Hall-Wilson on 4 ways you might be slipping up and not noticing. (If you’re a reader, not a writer, this will blow your reader’s mind in a good way. Pretty amazing the things writers have to think about to make it all work so you don’t notice.) Have to say the book I’m reading right now could have done with an edit through for these four. And often my own writing…

4 Ways To Be Invisible with Deep POV

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